Field of the Dead must have some serious dirt on Ian Duke to still be legal in Historic.

Jumpstart brought Explore, giving Field of the Dead decks incredible early game consistency. There should be so few games where the Field of the Dead deck isn't starting the game with a virtual Time Walk, skipping directly from turn two to four. This of course led to the banning of…

Wilderness Reclamation?

There's always been the question of why Field of the Dead was ever un-suspended, given it's been banned in multiple formats of similar power level. The official explanation was basically, "Ghost Quarter and Goblin Ruinblaster will keep it in check."

They did not.

But I won't fault Wizards of the Coast too much for unsuspending a card and seeing if the format would figure things out. This is doubly true for a format never actually intended to be played competitively—Historic was a joke creation, intended solely to answer the question of what we do with cards on Arena once they rotate out of Standard. At the beginning of 2020, it wasn't clear we wouldn't all be living in the midst of a global pandemic, forcing everyone to reconsider how they engage with Magic.

That still doesn't answer one thing though—why is it still legal now?

Presumably they knew Hour of Promise was going to be in this set two weeks ago. I mean, the cards in it leaked just a few days later.

Beyond that, though, there's another important inclusion in the set: Thoughtseize. Relying on any specific card or synergy is a nightmare in a world of such an efficient discard spell, requiring a new level of each card needing to stand on its own, because everything can be dismantled by Thoughtseize—except lands. Even if there was a check on Field of the Dead, what could it be that can't be stolen by a Thoughtseize?

We should play it until they take it away from us, I suppose.

The natural color combination people have gravitated toward is Sultai, because Growth Spiral, Explore and Thoughtseize fall in those colors. Hour of Promise has fully supplanted Golos, Tireless Pilgrim. There's at least some argument to play both, because Golos, Tireless Pilgrim fills many roles and no longer needs multiple cards to work (just play one Cascading Cataracts).

From there, though, every build is a bit different, and there's no consensus build currently. As of writing this, here's where I've ended up after a couple SCG Challenges and a plethora of games on ladder:

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Sultai Lands by Nick Prince

'Sultai Lands' - constructed deck list and prices for the Magic: The Gathering Trading Card Game from TCGplayer Infinite!

Created By: Nick Prince

Event:

Rank:

Historic

Market Price: $530.72

Cards

Field of Ruin

Market Price: $0.52

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/206646_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {C}.
{2}, {T}, Sacrifice Field of Ruin: Destroy target nonbasic land an opponent controls. Each player searches their library for a basic land card, puts it onto the battlefield, then shuffles their library.

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Field of the Dead

Market Price: $20.94

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/192562_200w.jpg

Field of the Dead enters the battlefield tapped.
{T}: Add {C}.
Whenever Field of the Dead or another land enters the battlefield under your control, if you control seven or more lands with different names, create a 2/2 black Zombie creature token.

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Hydroid Krasis

Color Identity:G,U

Market Price: $15.66

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/182840_200w.jpg

When you cast this spell, you gain half X life and draw half X cards. Round down each time.
Flying, trample
Hydroid Krasis enters the battlefield with X +1/+1 counters on it.

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Indatha Triome

Color Identity:B,G,W

Market Price: $7.85

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212689_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {W}, {B}, or {G}.)
Indatha Triome enters the battlefield tapped.
Cycling {3} ({3}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Forest

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $3.99

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/235548_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {G}.)

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Elder Gargaroth

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $16.47

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215477_200w.jpg

Vigilance, reach, trample
Whenever Elder Gargaroth attacks or blocks, choose one —
• Create a 3/3 green Beast creature token.
• You gain 3 life.
• Draw a card.

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Growth Spiral

Color Identity:G,U

Market Price: $0.41

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227368_200w.jpg

Draw a card. You may put a land card from your hand onto the battlefield.

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Hinterland Harbor

Color Identity:G,U

Market Price: $7.41

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/162120_200w.jpg

Hinterland Harbor enters the battlefield tapped unless you control a Forest or an Island.
{T}: Add {G} or {U}.

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Thoughtseize

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $16.92

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218934_200w.jpg

Target player reveals their hand. You choose a nonland card from it. That player discards that card. You lose 2 life.

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Arch of Orazca

Market Price: $1.42

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/155675_200w.jpg

Ascend (If you control ten or more permanents, you get the city's blessing for the rest of the game.)
{T}: Add {C}.
{5}, {T}: Draw a card. Activate this ability only if you have the city's blessing.

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Explore

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.16

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227337_200w.jpg

You may play an additional land this turn.
Draw a card.

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Negate

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.12

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222130_200w.jpg

Counter target noncreature spell.

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Elvish Rejuvenator

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/231212_200w.jpg

When Elvish Rejuvenator enters the battlefield, look at the top five cards of your library. You may put a land card from among them onto the battlefield tapped. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order.

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Extinction Event

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.71

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212261_200w.jpg

Choose odd or even. Exile each creature with converted mana cost of the chosen value. (Zero is even.)

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Zagoth Triome

Color Identity:B,G,U

Market Price: $14.91

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212691_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {B}, {G}, or {U}.)
Zagoth Triome enters the battlefield tapped.
Cycling {3} ({3}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Blast Zone

Market Price: $4.08

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/188636_200w.jpg

Blast Zone enters the battlefield with a charge counter on it.
{T}: Add {C}.
{X}{X}, {T}: Put X charge counters on Blast Zone.
{3}, {T}, Sacrifice Blast Zone: Destroy each nonland permanent with converted mana cost equal to the number of charge counters on Blast Zone.

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Fetid Pools

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $3.98

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/129682_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {U} or {B}.)
Fetid Pools enters the battlefield tapped.
Cycling {2} ({2}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Breeding Pool

Color Identity:G,U

Market Price: $23.13

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/182842_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {G} or {U}.)
As Breeding Pool enters the battlefield, you may pay 2 life. If you don't, it enters the battlefield tapped.

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Swamp

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.55

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/235544_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {B}.)

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Grafdigger's Cage

Market Price: $1.91

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/192909_200w.jpg

Creature cards in graveyards and libraries can't enter the battlefield.
Players can't cast spells from graveyards or libraries.

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Bojuka Bog

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.84

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/236447_200w.jpg

Bojuka Bog enters the battlefield tapped.
When Bojuka Bog enters the battlefield, exile all cards from target player's graveyard.
{T}: Add {B}.

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Languish

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.95

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/216573_200w.jpg

All creatures get -4/-4 until end of turn.

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Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath

Color Identity:G,U

Market Price: $18.87

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/206836_200w.jpg

When Uro enters the battlefield, sacrifice it unless it escaped.
Whenever Uro enters the battlefield or attacks, you gain 3 life and draw a card, then you may put a land card from your hand onto the battlefield.
Escape—{G}{G}{U}{U}, Exile five other cards from your graveyard. (You may cast this card from your graveyard for its escape cost.)

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Pact of Negation

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $15.38

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/233786_200w.jpg

Counter target spell.
At the beginning of your next upkeep, pay {3}{U}{U}. If you don't, you lose the game.

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Drowned Catacomb

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $5.98

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/142036_200w.jpg

Drowned Catacomb enters the battlefield tapped unless you control an Island or a Swamp.
{T}: Add {U} or {B}.

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Woodland Cemetery

Color Identity:B,G

Market Price: $5.61

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/162123_200w.jpg

Woodland Cemetery enters the battlefield tapped unless you control a Swamp or a Forest.
{T}: Add {B} or {G}.

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Maelstrom Pulse

Color Identity:B,G

Market Price: $1.84

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/219026_200w.jpg

Destroy target nonland permanent and all other permanents with the same name as that permanent.

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Massacre Wurm

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $3.70

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215523_200w.jpg

When Massacre Wurm enters the battlefield, creatures your opponents control get -2/-2 until end of turn.
Whenever a creature an opponent controls dies, that player loses 2 life.

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Fabled Passage

Market Price: $9.62

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215556_200w.jpg

{T}, Sacrifice Fabled Passage: Search your library for a basic land card, put it onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle your library. Then if you control four or more lands, untap that land.

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Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

Market Price: $30.56

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215338_200w.jpg

+2: Ugin, the Spirit Dragon deals 3 damage to any target.
−X: Exile each permanent with converted mana cost X or less that's one or more colors.
−10: You gain 7 life, draw seven cards, then put up to seven permanent cards from your hand onto the battlefield.

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Heartless Act

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.76

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212369_200w.jpg

Choose one —
• Destroy target creature with no counters on it.
• Remove up to three counters from target creature.

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Ketria Triome

Color Identity:G,R,U

Market Price: $10.50

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212697_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {G}, {U}, or {R}.)
Ketria Triome enters the battlefield tapped.
Cycling {3} ({3}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Overgrown Tomb

Color Identity:B,G

Market Price: $12.75

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/175196_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {B} or {G}.)
As Overgrown Tomb enters the battlefield, you may pay 2 life. If you don't, it enters the battlefield tapped.

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Watery Grave

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $12.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/175205_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {U} or {B}.)
As Watery Grave enters the battlefield, you may pay 2 life. If you don't, it enters the battlefield tapped.

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Island

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.43

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/235542_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {U}.)

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Hour of Promise

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $1.50

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/135087_200w.jpg

Search your library for up to two land cards, put them onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle your library. Then if you control three or more Deserts, create two 2/2 black Zombie creature tokens.

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The plan here is simple: cast ramp spells, disrupt the opponent's plan just enough with Thoughtseize, scoop off any offense they have with sweepers, and then win with a horde of Zombies.

With eight two-mana spells to ramp, five three-mana ramp spells, and four Hour of Promise, the deck routinely makes Zombies on turn four—in chunks of four or more thanks to Hour of Promise counting lands six and seven for the purpose of making Zombies. There are only 13 total spells that don't build toward putting lands into play for Field of the Dead, and the rest is ramp. The deck is surprisingly fast and consistent, and wins within a couple turns of making Zombies.

What's easily been the most successful end game is including maindeck copies of Massacre Wurm—a card I've been stomping for on my stream for a month now. When both players reach the, "play lands and make hordes of Zombies" phase, Massacre Wurm wins the game instantaneously, either through its second ability on its own, or in combination with a few 2/2 Zombie tokens to finish the job. It's supplanted the need to run other end games in a lot of situations.

Thoughtseize and Zombie tokens handle grindy control decks. Wrath effects like Languish, Extinction Event and Massacre Wurm take care of aggressive decks, and the mirror is answered by Massacre Wurm on its own. The single Ugin, the Spirit Dragon exists largely as a way to win matches against decks like Auras that dodge Languish, and functions as a catch-all answer to various enchantments.

With other people picking this up, though, there's been an odd dance developing where both players have to play afraid of Massacre Wurm and are incentivized to trade off Zombies as fast as possible or risk dying to an opposing Massacre Wurm. This has led me to look for ways to break this paradigm, and eventually brought me to Pact of Negation.

Past the first few turns of the game, Sultai isn't short on mana. Pact of Negation allows us to play to the board proactively without worrying about being unexpectedly Fireball out of the game by a Massacre Wurm. While there is still some risk, as a Thoughtseize to take the counterspell before resolving Massacre Wurm still exists, the odds are fairly low. And if it happens, you just have to take your lumps, knowing sometimes you'll do it back to them. 

Grafdigger's Cage is the graveyard hate card of choice at the moment, because it functions as a hate card against one of the other new decks in Historic: Collected Company + Bolas's Citadel. Essentially a combo deck looking to power out Bolas's Citadel and win by sacrificing ten permanent while some combination of Mayhem Devil, Cruel Celebrant and Blood Artist are in play (not necessarily in the same deck, but I've seen Abzan and Jund versions). It's nearly the same deck as the Pioneer version that's taken off since the bans in that format, and is worth respecting because it can actually race Field of the Dead.

The only other card that might not have an obvious use is Blast Zone. With Kor Spiritdancer, Staggering Insight, Curiosity and Curious Obsession, there are still a multitude of various Auras decks that exist where Blast Zone blunts their offense and card draw in a way they can't easily answer. I found myself always wanting to draw at least one in those matchups, and frequently a second one would have locked up the game.

While there isn't a fully defined metagame, here's how I'm sideboarding with the deck at this point:

Vs. The Mirror
-1 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
-1 Extinction Event
-2 Languish

+2 Pact of Negation
+2 Negate

I've waffled multiple times on whether I want one copy of Maelstrom Pulse or the fourth copy of Thoughtseize in the mirror. Currently I'm erring on the side of an answer to any strange permanents they play, and a way to remove their Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, should they keep any in. Negates are almost exclusively for Hour of Promise, though I think I'd snag a Cultivate in the right circumstance early on.

Vs. Mono-Red
-3 Massacre Wurm
-3 Thoughtseize

+2 Elder Gargaroth
+1 Maelstrom Pulse
+2 Heartless Act
+1 Extinction Event

This matchup is a race against their burn spells, and their best tool for fighting you is Rampaging Ferocidon. Rampaging Ferocidon must be removed to win, otherwise every land drop is doing more damage than their burn ever will. Whenever it's off the field, it's important to make as many Zombies as fast as possible, because once they're in play the race is on. For this reason, anything that can kill a Rampaging Ferocidon comes in, including keeping Ugin, the Spirit Dragon in play.

Very rarely it's necessary to pick lands to keep yourself at six instead of making Zombies to avoid damaging yourself with Rampaging Ferocidon. But it's usually best to still make some to block Rampaging Ferocidon right away.

Vs. Goblins
-1 Maelstrom Pulse
-2 Massacre Wurm
-2 Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath

+3 Grafdigger's Cage
+2 Heartless Act

Massacre Wurm is okay but not fantastic. I keep in one because it sometimes wins the game out of nowhere, but as long as they don't get to put Muxus, Goblin Grandee in to play, making a ton of Zombies is enough. Goblin Ruinblaster is especially ineffective, unless it comes down very early, because Hour of Promise means Sultai rarely has just one Field of the Dead in play—it's usually between two and four, and the Zombies quickly overwhelm them.

Vs. Citadel
-2 Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath
-3 Massacre Wurm
-1 Maelstrom Pulse
-1 Thoughtseize

+3 Grafdigger's Cage
+2 Negate
+2 Heartless Act

They win if they have an active Bolas's Citadel. They do not win if they don't have an active Bolas's Citadel. Try not to let them have Bolas's Citadel. Negate also counters Collected Company.

This is my brilliant analysis of the matchup. Check please, TCGplayer!

I take out one Thoughtseize, because I want one early to snag their first Bolas's Citadel, but later ones are rarely in their hand for more than the time it takes to cast them.

Vs. Aura Decks
-1 Field of Ruin
-3 Massacre Wurm
-2 Elvish Rejuvenator

+1 Blast Zone
+2 Heartless Act
+1 Extinction Event
+1 Maelstrom Pulse
+1 Thoughtseize

Most of the plays against these decks are about disrupting what they can do in response to a removal spell, making Thoughtseize incredible against them. Their Karametra's Blessings and Dive Downs look much worse in the face of discard. Mono-Blue can't afford to counter every single thing you play, so four Thoughtseize strips them of the relevant counterspells, and then you hammer them from there.

The white versions run more on-board effects like Selfless Savior, Alseid of Life's Bounty and Dauntless Bodyguard, but even then Thoughtseize fills two roles: 1. taking Kor Spiritdancer before it ever enters play, and 2. taking Lurrus of the Dream-Den on the turn they draw it. Nice new companion rule!

Vs. Control
-Idk
+Do whatever

This doesn't exist, really. But if you do run into it, board out the removal spells and board in Thoughtseize and Negates, I guess Or go grab a snack while they sideboard because Field of the Dead will handle it for you. If the game goes long, escape Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath.

If you want to beat control more, you can play Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger in the sideboard, then they super can't win.

I think this is the strongest positioned version of Field of the Dead at the moment. I'm still experimenting a bit, especially because counterspells and Sphinx's Revelation (Why is this in Amonkhet?) are interesting ways to stop Massacre Wurm before it ever comes down, but nothing I've tried yet really solves the problem. It's, yet again, Field of the Dead's world and we just live in it.